When Arnecia Hawkins enrolled at Arizona State University last fall, she did not realize she was volunteering as a test subject in an experimental reinvention of American higher education, Salon reports. Yet here she was, near the end of her spring semester, learning math from a machine. In a well-appointed computer lab in Tempe, on Arizona State’s desert resort of a campus, she and a sophomore named Jessica were practicing calculating annuities. Through a software dashboard, they could click and scroll among videos, text, quizzes and practice problems at their own pace. As they worked, their answers, along with reams of data on the ways in which they arrived at those answers, were beamed to distant servers…. Arizona State’s decision to move to computerized learning was born, at least in part, of necessity. With more than 70,000 students, Arizona State is the largest public university in the U.S. Like institutions at every level of American education, it is going through some wrenching changes.

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